Schutzhund Trial: What is Schutzhund Sport?

What is Schutzhund?

A perfect dog has definite inborn behavior features. That is a friendly, kindhearted family member, an alert guard, a brave defendant, an obedient and reliable companion. The presence of these features depends not only on dog training for definite behavior models but also on genetic base, that is the character of the parents and even ancestors.

Schutzhund is a kind of sports. Its point is to evaluate dog's character. A dog is supposed to perform definite tasks. It is compared to the performance of other dogs. Translated from German Schutzhund means a guard dog. This kind of training is intended especially for guard dogs. It have been forming in Germany in the flow of the XX century and used for training of service dogs and assessment of their achievements. This promoted maintenance of the necessary dog features.

Schutzhund History

In the end of XVIII-XIX centuries there have been many shepherd dogs in the Eastern Europe. They helped their owners to herd ships, cows and other cattle and also guarded flocks and warned about appearance of strangers in a village or near the cattle. Herding dogs were an indispensable part of country farms.

These dogs did not belong to definite breeds in its classic meaning. They could be divided into definite types by the body structure, color and sizes. At those times only rich people could have the possibility to own a pure breed dog with pedigree. They preferred hounds and other hunting dogs. Country herding dogs were bred and owned by farmers and peasants from one generation to another. Wealthy people did not turn attention to herding dogs as well as to peasants and a shepherd dog was considered almost a pariah-dog.

This longed till the end of the XIX century when some representatives of wealthy people who had enough time and money turned attention to breeding of dogs for pleasure. They got interested with usual country dogs. That was probably the first time shepherd dogs became something more valuable than flocks they guarded. At various regions of Europe some people started to make steps for development and saving of a breed.

One of these people was a young German aristocrat, the officer of a cavalry Max von Stephanitz. In 1899 he founded the German Shepherd Club (SV). it is impossible to over-evaluate the role of von Stephanitz in forming and development of the German Shepherd dog breed. He headed the club, started the pedigree book, developed the breed standard and pointed the judges that were to select the most valuable breed representatives. Also he organized German Shepherd sport competitions. Of course, many dog sport trials took place in European villages before. But that was von Stephanitz who made these trials official held by the SV club and also distinguished the stages that included tracking, obedience and protection. This was the start of development of the type of dog sports that is called Schutzhund now.

Von Stephanitz was absolutely sure that the German Shepherd was a working dog and should that be and its value depends on service features. He promoted use of German Shepherd dogs in German police and army. These are the services that have had then and have now a great need in dogs with a sharp sense of smell, incredible bravery, fearlessness, agility and unconditional obedience in spite of aggression. Von Stephanitz was a farseeing person. Since its founding in 1899 the SV club of German Shepherd dog breed was successfully functioning for 36 years. He created also a strict system of control over German Shepherd breeding in Germany since the first half of the XX century.

Nowadays SV is the largest and the most respected breeding club in the world that proceeds its work following the traditions established by von Stephanitz.

Schutzhund sport is an indispensable part of the system by von Stephanitz for saving and development of physical characteristics and temperament of the breed.

According to the thesis of SV about the breeding standards, successful test in Schutzhund trial is the first requirement for allowance in breeding.

In Germany a German Shepherd may get an official pedigree only if both parents have passed Schutzhund trial successfully. Moreover, a dog is not allowed for dog shows, to claim for "perfect" (Vorztiglich) assessment of exterior, compete for the title of the Champion of Germany and allowed for breeding by Kormeister until it passes Schutzhund test.

Germans stably preserve the German Shepherd dog breed standard as a working dog for many years for the testing system. They allow for breeding only dogs that have the definite features of physical and psychical state required for a service dog and these features are assessed by a Schutzhund test.

Schutzhund is a test for evaluation of dog's character, trainability, sobriety, activity and interest for service. A dog should be diversely developed, able to pass three absolutely different parts of the test within a day: tracking, obedience and protection.

1) A tracking stage evaluates persistence and concentration, smell, will to work and contact of a dog with a handler. A dog should work a given track trough finding and pointing to the objects left by a tracer. The length of trace and time span from laying and start of tracking prolongs with each next level of Schutzhund (SchI, II and III).

2) An obedience test serves to evaluate the reaction of a dog to a handler. Test of obedience presupposes various exercises in which a dog is required to perform commands distinctly and ambitiously.  A dog displays abilities to walk by the owner, fetching, jumping over a barrier etc.

3) At the stage of protection judges evaluate dog's bravery, its eagerness for fight, self-confidence and performance of commands of a handler in a very difficult and strained situation. Here a dog is to find and point to a "thief" (helper) who is hiding behind a Schutzhund cover by barking, stop his attack on a handler, prevent a thief escape and perform some other exercises.


A Dog Finds and Points to a Helper by Barking


Protection Stage at Schutzhund Trial: Attack. Click Here to View Our Bite Sleeves for Protection

Dog's service is evaluated by a licensed judge. It is presupposed, that a judge himself is an experienced dog trainer working for many years with service dogs. He has to "feel" and understand a dog. By watching a dog in action for the time of testing he should understand what qualities it has.

It is considered that the task of a judge is to define the winner. But probably his main function is to define the dogs that have outstanding features of character and should be used for breeding (for the condition it meets the other requirements as for the physical health and exterior) and to point out dogs with weak character or inappropriate temperament to avoid their breeding. Consequently, a judge may and he must disqualify a dog at any stage of trial if he admits behavior deviations.

Schutzhund trials are held by local Schutzhund clubs that are united in larger organizations. In many states Schutzhund trials gather full stadiums of spectators and fans. For example, in Europe they held over 10 thousands of trials testing about 40 thousands of German Shepherd dogs. Nowadays Schutzhund trials are open also for other dog breeds, such as Boxer, Doberman, Riesenschnauzer, Bouvier des Flandres, Rottweiler and Belgian Shepherds (Groenendael, Malinois and Tervuren).

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